Do you have a systematic approach for understanding difficult Bible passages?
I understand that William Miller, an early pioneer of the advent movement, went verse by verse through his Bible with a concordance and a dictionary by his side, not proceeding to the next verse until he was certain he understood the last.
God had a lot to show Brother Miller, and He ended up using him in a very mighty way!
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I usually take a bit larger chunk at a time as I study my Bible, to try to get a feel for the overall intention of the writer. If a verse puzzles me a bit, I will read the whole chapter… and perhaps the one before… and after… or the entire book.
Meanwhile, I refer back often to the verse in question. (I do have to guess that William Miller’s “verse by verse” approach maybe was not quite that literal and likely involved much of this context study, as well.)
When I still feel stumped, I add in a whole lot of extra prayer. I might consult dictionaries, concordances, Bible commentaries, and my fellow believers. When I still don’t get it, I usually keep it in the back of my mind as I move on, and occasionally refer back to the difficult passage.
I have learned that sooner or later (maybe even years later), I will be reading another passage or an old memory verse will come to mind or the meaning of a word or phrase will open up and the Holy Spirit will in essence say, “There you go!” The passage will be unmistakably clear — and I will be unmistakably excited about it. If you talk to me very long, you are certain to hear about it! 🙂
This is the kind of enthusiasm that rubs off on the children, too. We can teach them how to “mine” their Bibles for hidden treasure this same way, and pretty soon we will both have some exciting discovery to share!
How do you usually deal with Bible passages that seem difficult for you to understand? Let us know in the comments! 🙂